When I first decided to give meditation a try, I thought I had a pretty good idea what it would be about. After all, I am natural born daydreamer and quite proficient at letting my mind wander. Add sitting in full lotus, some mantra chanting, close my eyes and that’s it, right?
Boy was I wrong!
My biggest surprise was to learn that meditating isn’t just about letting the mind wander, such as in daydreaming, but quite the opposite. It is about paying attention, being mindful, aware, and focusing.
My introduction to meditation was through my yoga classes. But I found that part of yoga so beneficial that I began to practice it alone as well.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years many different cultures and religions. Like yoga, it gained popularity in the United States during the 1960s counterculture movement.
Not only is meditating mentally beneficial, but it also benefits emotionally, spiritually, and physically. You will become more aware of yourself, others, and your surroundings. You learn to notice each moment and value it. You will learn to relax and let go of stress. You will better understand yourself.
Though generally performed while sitting quietly – and yes, full lotus or half lotus are good poses, but any comfortable position is fine – meditation is an active practice.
Once you find a comfortable position, make sure your posture is good. A straight back helps keep the energy flow through your body.
* Focus your attention inward – listen to your inner thoughts and your emotions. Observe them and acknowledge them. You don’t need to block them or judge them.
* Become aware of your breathing – each inhale brings energy inward and each exhale releases energy. Take deep cleansing breaths. Breathe through your nostrils. Focus and pay attention to the energy flow with each breath and release. Recognize the energy that is within you and surrounding you. All living matter is made up of energy. Learn to use it.
* Find your mind and body connection – you’ve probably heard of the Hindu chakras, these are energy channels in the body. The seven main chakras run along the body’s spine to the head. They are the base of the spine, lower abdomen, the navel, middle of the chest, throat, forehead, and the top of the head. As you breathe, try to clear your mind and focus on each chakra starting from the top of the head and working your way down. Take as many minutes as you need to give each chakra your full attention. Become aware of your body.
You can also relax your body. This may work better lying down. Close your eyes and become mindful of your breathing. Become aware of where your body touches the surface you’re lying on. Starting at your feet, focus on them. Next, contract and release the muscles to that part of the body. Move up to the lower legs, then upper legs, buttocks, stomach, hands, lower arms, etc. repeating the awareness, contracting, and releasing of muscles as you move up your body. When you finish, allow your body to melt into the surface beneath. Remain in the relaxed state for as many minutes as you like.
Throughout the day you can find other opportunities for meditation. You can meditate while working in your yard, walking, doing your hobbies, working, eating, etc. It’s all a matter of being mindful of your activity, be aware of the moment you are in, how it makes you feel, and how it connects you to the energy around you.
So, give your mind and body a break. Recharge your energy. And discover a more enjoyable life.